Greetings from the State Capitol!
The death penalty debate began on Monday and progressed into Tuesday morning with deep convictions, philosophies and fact based arguments for and against the repeal of the death penalty in Nebraska.
I am opposed to LB 543 based on the premise there are some crimes which are so egregious and heinous in nature that they cannot be ignored and digressed to a lighter sentence of life without parole. Crimes that involve torture and the complete degradation of a human being prior to death can only lead to a predator who is completely desensitized and who clearly feels no remorse for such an intolerable action.
The innocent victims’ families have no end to pain, no resolution and no tangible retribution for the tragic loss experienced by the crime. The family can receive no just or satisfactory compensation for the loss in life, and as such no fiscal argument can sway my decision on whether to vote or not vote for the repeal. The family’s irreplaceable loss of a loved one, as well as the sadness and the tragedy that accompanies it is enough to compel me to vote against it.
The fact that our court system is not without error is not a justifiable reason to repeal the death penalty. I believe improvements being made with DNA testing have demonstrated we can have error-free convictions due to more objective examinations of scientific evidence. Retribution is not revenge if the punishment fits the crime.
DNA testing leads to no prejudice with regard to race or income. Our court systems are blind toward social characteristics such as race or income, and our ideals set the precedent in the judicial system. The idea that legal counsels are negligent and not defending clients is an assertion that the majority of cases in Nebraska are conducted with malice. This simply is not true. We have an appeals process that is utilized in high numbers and as such, there are many opportunities to be redeemed in our state.
We have 11 persons on death row in Nebraska. The cost of pursuing a capital punishment case is three million. However, it is rare when Nebraska actually performs an execution. These prisoners may die of natural causes in prison before ever being brought to justice, which is the reason some states in our nation expedite the process.
Nebraska permits a countless number of appeals for inmates on death row, where one inmate for example, initiated 25 appeals. Litigation on appeals is costly to our state and with the advent of DNA testing as evidence, I think we can solidify convictions quickly and remove the litigation cost with future legislation that may reduce the number of opportunities for appeal.
Some people simply do not value human life. They cannot be rehabilitated. These people are dangerous and the punishment is justifiable based on the nature of the crime. We must govern and protect our communities and our children. We must make the hard decisions and remove individuals from our society who have committed the most heinous and atrocious of crimes and that are beyond rehabilitation.
Sometimes, we have to follow our faith, personal beliefs and then sometimes, we must govern. We have to make the hard decisions. We must govern our state. I choose common sense, decency and reason, all the while extending a resolute and firm hand on justice.
LB 543 failed to obtain the 33 votes needed for cloture, and did not advance to Select File.